wrong taste of some readers; but it would never have become the delight of the common people, nor havewarmed the heart of Sir PHILIP SIDNEY like the sound of a trumpet; it is only Nature that can have this effect, and please those tastes which are the most unprejudiced or the most refined. I must, however, beg leave to dissent from so great an authority as that of Sir PHILIP SIDNEY, in the judgment which he has passed as to the rude style and evil apparel of this antiquated song; for there are several parts in it where not only the thought, but the language, is majestic, and the numbers sonorous; at least the apparel is much more gorgeous than many of the poets made use of in Queen ELISABETH'S time, as the reader will see in several of the following quotations.

What can be greater than either the thought or the expression in that stanza?

To drive the deer with hound and horn

Earl PERCY took his way;

The child may rue that was unborn

The hunting of that day!

This way of considering the misfortunes which this battle would bring upon posterity, not only on those who were born immediately after the battle, and lost their fathers in it, but on those also who perished in future battles which took their rise from this quarrel. of the two Earls, is wonderfully beautiful, and conformable to the way of thinking among the ancient poets.

Audiet pugnas vitio parentum

Rara juventus.

HOR. I. OD. ii. 23.

Posterity, thinn'd by their fathers crimes,

Shall read with grief the story of their times.

What can be more sounding and poetical, or resemble more the majestic simplicity of the ancients, than the following stanzas ?

The stout Earl of NORTHUMBERLAND

A vow to God did make,

His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summers days to take.

With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
All chosen men of might,

Who knew full well, in time of need,
To ain their shafts aright.

The hounds ran swiftly through the woods
The nimble deer to take;

And with their cries the hills and dales
An echo shrill did make.

-Vocat ingenti clamore CITHARON

TAYGETIQUE canes, domitrixque EPIDAURUS equorum:

Et vox assensu nemorum ingeminata remugit.

CITHERON loudly calls me to my way;

GEORG. iii. 43

Thy hounds, TAYGETUS, open, and pursue the prey :
High EPIDAURUS urges on my speed,

Fam'd for his hills, and for his horses breed;
From hills and dales the cheerful cries rebound;
For ECHO hunts along, and propagates the sound.

Lo, yonder doth Earl DOUGLAS come,
His men in armour bright;

Full twenty hundred Scottish spears,
All marching in our sight.

All men of pleasant Tividale,
Fast by the river Tweed, &c.


The country of the Scottish warriors, described in these two last verses, has a fine romantic situation, and affords a couple of smooth words for verse, If the reader compares the foregoing six lines of the song with the following Latin verses, he will see how much they are written in the spirit of VIRGIL:


Adversi campo apparent, hastasque reductis

Protendunt longe dextris; et spicula vibrant :

Quique altum PRENESTE Viri, quique arva Gabine
Junonis, gelidumque Anienem, et roscida rivis

Hernica saxa colunt

-qui rosea rura Velini,

Qui Tetricæ horrentes rupes, montemque Severum,
Casperiamque colunt, Forulosque et flumen Himellæ :
Qui Tiberim Fabarimque bibunt-

ДN. xi. 605. vii. 682, 712.

Advancing in a line, they couch their spears.

PRENESTE sends a chosen band,

With those who plow Saturnia's Gabine land:
Besides the succours which cold Anien yields;
'The rocks of Hernicus- -besides a band,
That followed from Velinum's dewy land-
And mountaineers that from Severus came:
And from the craggy cliffs of Tetrica;
And those where yellow Tiber takes his way,
And where Himella's wanton waters play:
Casperia sends her arms, with those that lie
By Fabaris, and fruitful Foruli.

But to proceed:

Earl DGUGLAS on a milk white steed,
Most like a Baron bold,

Rode foremost of the company,

Whose armour shone like gold.


TURNUS ut antevolans tardum præcesserat agmen, &c
Vidisti, quo TURNUS equo, quibus ibat in armis

Our English archers bent their bows,
Their hearts were good and true:
At the first flight of arrows sent,
Full threescore Scots they slew.

They clos'd full fast on ev'ry side,
No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground..

With that there came an arrow keen,

Out of an English bow,

Which struck Earl DOUGLAS to the heart

A deep and deadly blow.

ENEAS was wounded after the same manner by an

unknown hand in the midst of a parley;

Has inter veces, media inter talia verba,
Ecce viro stridens alis allapsa sagitta est,
Incertum qua pulsa manu

Thus while he spake, unmindful of defence,
A winged arrow struck the pious prince;
But whether from a human hand it came,
Or hostile god, is left unknown by fame.

EN. xii. 318.


But of all the descriptive parts of this song, there are none more beautiful than the four following stanzas,

which have a great force and spirit in them, and are filled with very natural circumstances. The thought in the third stanza was never touched by any other poet, and is such an one as would have shined in HOMER ar VIRGIL.

So thus did both these nobles die,
Whose courage none could stain
An English archer then perceiv'd
The noble Earl was slain.

He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree,
An arrow of a cloth-yard long
Unto the head drew he.

So right his shaft he set,
The grey-goose wing that was thereon
In his heart-blood was wet.

This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun;

For when they rung the ev'ning-bell,
The battle scarce was done.,

One may observe, likewise, that in the catalogue of the slain the author has followed the example of the greatest ancient poets, not only in giving a long list of the dead, but by diversifying it with little characters of particu persons.


And with Earl DOUGLAS there was slaine


Sir CHARLES CARREL, that from the field
One foot would never fly:

Sir CHARLES MURREL of Ratcliff, too,
His sister's son was he;

Sir DAVID LAMB, so weli esteem'd,
Yet saved could not be.

The familiar sound in these names destroys the majesty of the description; for this reason I do not mention this part of the poem but to shew the natural cast of thought which appears in it, as the two last verses look almost like a translation of VIRGIL.

Cadit et RIPHEUS, justissimus unus

Qui fuit in Teucris, et servantissimus æqui,
Diis aliter visum est-

Then RIPHEUS fell in the unequal fight,
Just of his word, observant of the right:
Heav'n thought not so.

EN. ii. 426.


In the catalogue of the English who fell, WITHERINGTON's behaviour is in the same manner particularized very artfully, as the reader is prepared for it by that. account which is given of him in the beginning of the battle; though I am satisfied your little buffoon readers, who have seen that passage ridiculed in HUDIBRAS, will not be able to take the beauty of it: for which rea son I dare not so much as quote it.

Then stept a gallant squire forth,
WITHERINGTON was his name,.
Who said, I would not have it told
To HENRY Our King for shame,

That e'er my Captain fought on foot,
And I stood looking on.

We meet with the same heroic sentiment in VIRGIL.

Non pudet, O Rutuli, cunctis pro talibus unam
Objectare animam? numerone an viribus æqui
Non sumus?-

For shame Rutulians, can you bear the sight
Of one expos'd for all, in single fight?
Can we, before the face of heav'n, confess
Our courage colder, or our numbers less?

EN xii 229,


What can be more natural or more moving than the circumstances in which he describes the behaviour of those women who had lost their husbands on this fatal day?

Next day did many widows come
Their husbands to bewail;

They wash'd their wounds in brinish tears,

But all would not prevail.

Their bodies bath'd in purple blood,

They bore with them away:

They kiss'd them dead a thousand times,

When they were clad in clay.

« VorigeDoorgaan »